The extreme couponing backlash: How retailers have been forced to issue new rules to prevent abuse of discount offers


The extreme couponing backlash: How retailers have been forced to issue new rules to prevent abuse of discount offers

Retailers have been fighting back against so-called extreme couponners by changing the policies that allow such shoppers to abuse their special offers.

Stores including Kroger and Rite-Aid have become frustrated by this group of bulk-buyers who dramatically cut the value of their purchases by collecting coupons and tactically using them to obtain the best discount.

Some, as a TLC reality show on the subject reveals, can even end up profiting from the exercise – though it comes at huge cost to a retailer, in terms of both profits and employees' time.

Crackdown: Retailers are trying to make it more difficult for 'extreme couponners' to abuse customer discount offers

Crackdown: Retailers are trying to make it more difficult for 'extreme couponners' to abuse customer discount offers

Now, though, many stores are changing or adapting the policies that allow shoppers to redeem coupons in an effort to deter extreme couponners.

Supermarket chain Kroger, for example, is banning 'stacking', a process by which couponners obtain extra discounts by simultaneously redeeming coupons published in both print and online outlets.

It has also limited the number of online coupons that a shopper can redeem in a single day.

A spokesman told the Detroit News
that the move was taken in order that as many shoppers as possible can
take advantage of its discounts.

'We want all customers to be able to get the products they want when they are shopping in our stores'

'We want all customers to be able to get the products they want when they are shopping in our stores,' they explained.

Likewise, pharmacy chain Rite-Aid announced recently that it would be testing a
coupon policy change, by which customers would not be able to redeem loyalty rewards on the same day that they earn them.

Walmart, a particular target for extreme couponners, would not comment on how it handles such shoppers, though a case study in the Detroit news suggests that it does try to make the redemption process as difficult as possible for those trying to abuse offers by 'stacking' and buying in bulk.

Retail trend: The practice was made popular by reality show Extreme Couponing, in which subjects save vast sums by using coupons and buying in bulk

Retail trend: The practice was made popular by reality show Extreme Couponing, in which subjects save vast sums by using coupons and buying in bulk

It tells how a so-called 'moneymaker' found she could earn a profit of 11 cents on a carton of chocolate milk if she were to combine a coupon with a sale price at her local Walmart.

But in a policy that she believes is 'deliberately annoying' the shopper was forced to buy each of her 34 cartons in its own separate transaction, making the process labour-intensive and tedious both for her and the Walmart checkout worker.